Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas at the Circuit of the Americas the debrief

For a last minute trip, my visit to COTA for MotoGP and MotoAmerica racing was as good a trip as it gets. I’ve said this to a few people over the past few weeks of marshaling and I don’t think they can really wrap their brains around this statement so let’s break it down here.

I was set to go to Watkins Glen for the NASCAR Motorsport Safety Seminar… I chickened out when I saw snow and freezing temps on the forecast. It did indeed snow and was freezing Upstate New York but I didn’t sit around at home sulking. I booked a flight the day before my departure for Texas. Austin was expensive… of course it would be, I’m only competing with tens of thousands of spectators, teams, officials, etc. So I flew to Dallas. It cost $63 one way on American Airlines and $62 on the way back flying United.

Unlike the last trip a month ago for PWC, Megabus was pricey and the scheduling didn’t work. So I elected to try Greyhound… it still cost almost $30 bux round trip, and the experience was crazy to say the least… I was pretty surprised by the type of folks that ride Greyhound, especially those that make their journey across the whole country, but that’s a story for another time. Lucky for me the Greyhound station is very near to my friend Joaquin’s home and it was quite convenient to get a ride to and from the track there.

Joaquin had a full house so I used my tent that lives in Texas to camp at COTA which worked out very well. It was especially convenient since I told Jeanie that I’d be happy to flag, be a track marshal or deliver lunches and she snagged me to help out with track ops, where among other things I really did do deliver lunches. It was the hardest I had ever worked at a track while volunteering. I was running around so much I had to change my shirt during lunch time because it was completely soaken wet. But it was such a blast.

Probably the coolest experience for me was driving around on track delivering marshals to their stations. I got to use the Toyota Tundra to take a small group to Turn 20A and 20B, and then raced back around the track to see if more people needed rides. I also used a golf cart to run many errands driving around the inner and outer rings of the circuit as well as multiple trips to the paddock. Unlike other series, Dorna really enforced the rule of nobody but officials in pit lane and garages. Everyone got scanned in and out. And since we didn’t get the credentials the only time I got to go there was during the pit walk which we shared with spectators.

But I feel I really got my money’s worth. I was issued blue overalls and a tabard so when numbers were short Saturday morning I was the only flagger at Turn 16. Then I got another track ops person to join me. Then I got pulled off when a real flagger turned up. And as I was leaving I got to help push a striken bike onto the gator transport. It was pretty awesome. On race day I got to spectate from Turn 1 and when things went crashy I got to push another bike up on the transport while the track marshal who was working there was trying to get his hand looked on which he burned by accidentally touching the smoking hot exhaust pipe under the seat. Apparently it burned right thru the glove.

All in all it was the best time I had ever had at COTA and I wouldn’t rule it out that I would sign up again for this position for another big event like Formula 1 later this year.

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